Refuse to Elect Tax Assessors and Collectors

One way that governments have tried to make taxes more palatable is to allow the citizens to elect their own local tax assessors and collectors. And one way citizens have responded to this gambit is by refusing to elect anyone at all. Here are some examples:

  • During the Fries Rebellion, people refused to serve as assessors. On one occasion, Commissioner Eyerley addressed a crowd of tax resisters:

    Mr. Eyerley proposed that inasmuch as they were opposed to the present assessor, he would give them the privilege of electing one of their own number, to whom he would give the appointment. This they declined, saying: “We will do no such thing; if we do, we at once acknowledge that we submit to the law, and that is what we will not do.”

    on another occasion, the principal assessor, James Chapman, held a public meeting to try to mollify critics of the tax:

    and also to inform them they would be permitted to select their own assessor, and that any capable man whom they might name would be qualified. The offer, however, did not meet with much favor in that section of the township, and the people declined to have anything to do with it.

  • When Governor Andros tried to impose taxes on colonial New England without the consent of the colonial Assembly, he held a town meeting in Ipswich at which the town was to choose its Assessor. The town refused, saying “that they are not willing to choose a commissioner for such an end.”
  • In the wake of the Panic of , in some parts of the United States, tax resistance was resorted to out of fury at having to pay off foreign speculators and in the hopes of sovereign debt repudiation (all much like what is going on in Greece today). One newspaper noted that “they have resisted the collection of taxes and defeated, at least temporarily, the operations of the law; in some cases, by the resignation of officers whose duty it was to collect the taxes and in others by the refusal of the people to elect the proper officers for that purpose.”
  • In Kastamonu, Turkey in , the citizenry boycotted the elections for city councillors on the grounds that it did not matter whom they elected, since they had no control over taxation or spending.
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